A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja yesterday granted Murtala Nyako, former governor of Adamawa State, and his son, Sen. Abdulaziz Nyako, a bail bond of N350 million cash each .
Nyako and his son were arraigned before Justice E . Chukwu by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, over an alleged N15bn fraud perpetrated between 2011to 2013.
Nyako was arraigned together with his co-accused on a 37-count charge bordering on criminal conspiracy, stealing, abuse of office and money laundering to the tune of N29 billion (Twenty-Nine Billion Naira).
The accused persons are alleged to have, at various times between 2011 and 2013, used five companies – Blue Opal Nigeria limited, Serore Farms & Extension Limited, Pagoda Fortunes Limited, Towers Assets Management Limited and Crust Energy Limited to commit the fraud.
Moving the bail application, Nyako’s counsel, Kanu Agabi, SAN, a former Attorney General of the Federation, AGF, prayed the court to admit the accused persons to bail on liberal terms, arguing that “they are at the moment presumed innocent.” He said: “They won’t run away because, like a goldfish, they have no hiding place. Moreover, they have been on administrative bail, which they have honoured.”
However, prosecuting counsel, Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, urged the court to refuse the bail application of the accused persons. Jacobs premised his standpoint on the fact that Nyako and his son, who is a serving senator, had been declared wanted by the EFCC after they ignored the invitation of the anti-graft agency.
According to Jacob, the former governor and his son absconded and went into hiding, until after May 29, 2015. He said : “They are not automatically entitled to bail even with their status. Moreover, we believe that they may abscond based on their past antecedent as fugitives and thus not come for trial based on the very weighty evidence brought against them.”
Jacobs said two principal witnesses in the case died mysteriously shortly after they gave statements, which indicted the accused persons in the crime. “We believe that there is possibility for them to interfere with the case,” he added. Justice Chukwu, in his ruling on the bail application, admitted the accused persons to bail in the sum of N350 million (Three Hundred and Fifty Million Naira) each, with two sureties who must be resident in Abuja, one of whom must be a serving director in a federal government establishment.
The sureties, the judge added, must show evidence of being land owners in Abuja and must present verified tax payment documents for the past three years.
He further ruled that their international passports, along with two most recent passport photographs, be submitted to the court registrar. Justice Chukwu, thereafter, adjourned till September 30, October 22 and 23, 2015 for hearing.
– Faith Aghaeze, Abuja